Vietnam Q1 GDP seen growing around 6 pct: central bank

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Vietnam's economy is expected to grow by around 6 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, State Bank of Vietnam Governor Nguyen Van Giau said on Monday.

Giau gave the estimate in his opening speech to a conference jointly held with the International Monetary Fund to address post-crisis growth and poverty reduction in Asia.

His estimate is slightly above a government forecast released early this month, in which the General Statistics Office said the economy was expected to grow 5.7-5.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Giau said the first quarter estimate came after Vietnam posted good growth last year while other countries suffered from the global crisis.

Fuelled by government stimulus, the economy leapt 6.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, its quickest pace since early 2008. The economy expanded 5.32 percent in the full year 2009, the slowest rate since 1999.

The government is targeting growth of 6.5 percent this year, while Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in January the economy could grow as much as 7 percent.

Dung told Reuters last week that Vietnam continues to face macroeconomic imbalances and the risk of a further pick-up in inflation, but said efforts to keep prices in check while pursuing growth appeared to be working.

The central bank's growth estimate quickened from an annual increase of 3.14 percent in the January-March period in 2009.

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